Sole Adventure Joins Western Hunter & Elk Hunter

Western Hunter & Elk Hunter

I am excited to announce that I am going to be doing some blogging for Western Hunter and Elk Hunter magazines.  It appears that many of you (readers of Sole Adventure) are whitetail hunters, but a good portion of you are also hunters from the West that chase Elk, Mule Deer, and other big game.  Either way – if you hunt the West or just dream about it – stay tuned to Sole Adventure, Western Hunter and Elk Hunter.  We’ve got some great things coming!

Wilderness Athlete Review

My first post for Elk Hunter is perfectly timed for the holiday season…

“Let’s face it – most of us have, at one time or another, gone on a health “kick”. We’ve tried this workout routine, or that product, but it is rare that we actually stick with it.  This time of year is especially rough on our health, diet, and fitness.  The hunting season is, or almost is, over for many of us.  The holidays are here, and along with the good times come a lot of good eats.  Then the New Year will be here, and if you are like a lot of folks, January 1st will bring reflection, regrets and resolutions.”

Continue reading…

End of the World Giveaway!

Also, be sure to check out their “End of the World” giveaway.  There are thousands of dollars of prizes up for grabs.  Enter before December 21st!

Big Buck Down! (Unfortunately)

The last five days have been an awesome time with family.  I hunted hard from late-October through most of November, so it was great to take a break and spend some quality time with loved ones.  Of course, I couldn’t have five days off of work and not hunt at all.

On Thanksgiving it was 72 degrees, but a cold front was rolling through on Friday afternoon and the lows for Friday evening were dropping to nearly 20-degrees.  My alarm went off at 4:00am on Saturday, and just as the forecast had predicted, it was blustery!

I bundled up and made a long, end-around hike to get to a treestand location that I have been saving for these exact conditions.  I was hoping that the cold snap was going to have a mature buck on his feet, cruising for some late breeding action.  This saddle on the high ridge was the perfect pinch point to catch some movement.

The first couple of hours after the sun came up were uneventful.  Then I heard some movement down the hillside.  I turned, scanned, and was disappointed to see a coyote trotting away.

It wasn’t long and this ‘yote was back, but this time he had another one with him.  Once again they trotted away in the same direction.

Thirty minutes passed and I heard something else move in the leaves; this time there were 3 coyotes and they were acting aggressively with one another.

At that moment I knew that they were battling over food.  But what exactly was it that they were feasting on?

I knew that my hunt was spoiled so I decided to cut my losses and head home.  I climbed down from my stand and made a quick glance down where the coyotes had been fighting.

I spotted a long tine sticking up and my heart sank.

Buck Down

I wasn’t about to risk invading the kill site with three aggressive coyotes in the area, so I decided to head home, grab a gun, and come back to investigate.

As you can see, what I discovered was a beautiful 10-point buck.  This buck had been shot with a rifle, and though the coyotes had just begun to tear into him, he was largely intact.

The primary firearms season had ended 5 days prior and there is no way that this buck could have been fatally shot that long ago.  There is also no way that this buck could have been shot in the legal firearms season and survived his wounds for that many days.  The only explanation is that someone shot him out of season and failed to recover him.

An extended, limited firearm season was still active at this time, but it was only for antlerless deer.  My guess is that someone was out hunting for does, but encountered this buck and couldn’t resist shooting him.  Apparently the lust for a trophy was greater than the burden of the law.

Buck Down

A buck of this caliber is a rare thing for this specific area.  I can’t tell you how frustrating it is to discover such a glorious animal that had been treated so poorly.  I have hunted hard for over 10 weeks, and passed many younger bucks, to get a chance at encountering a buck like this.  Here he was – the buck that I was after – and my hands were on him, but not in the way that I had hoped.

A big buck down…unfortunately.

Buck Down

Hunting For Food Doesn’t Make Sense

Hunting  with Grandpa's Rifle

People hunt for all kinds of reasons, but certainly a common one would be the acquisition of wild game for food.  Is that a valid reason to hunt in our modern day?  Is hunting for sustenance a legitimate pursuit?

Acquiring meat is as simple as making a quick drive, walking through a parking lot, selecting any cut we desire, and then paying for it.  That’s easy.

Hunting, however, is not so easy.  You have to find a place to hunt and then find the time.  Hunting requires that you educate yourself on the behavior of animals, as well as the proper use of your weapon.

Sometimes just seeing the game that you are pursuing is a challenge, but seeing them and being able to kill them are two completely different things.  Killing these smart, instinct-driven animals can be a tough test to pass.  Then, once skill and luck have mingled at fate’s choosing and you have killed some game, oh – then the work begins. Now you have to get your hands dirty and bloody; this too, takes more knowledge and time, and some fortitude.

The animal has now been found, killed, and cleaned, but how is it going to get to your plate?  Time is spent breaking down the animal into manageable sections, then trimming, selecting, and cutting. Finally, after many hours of work and dedication, you have something that somewhat resembles what you could have purchased in mere minutes at nearly any store.  But what they have at the store isn’t the same thing.

If meat is just meat, then hunting for food doesn’t make sense.

Maybe that doesn’t make sense.  Or, maybe you are a hunter, and all of this does make sense.

Maybe you are like me.

Doe Down, Happy Hunter The Real Avid Viscera Going To Work The True Trophy This Is Going To Be Tasty! Tasty, Indeed!

The Wild Story of Alex’s Giant Buck

I am excited to share today’s story with you!  My buddy, Alex, is a hard-working hunter that had an opportunity to hunt Kansas this year.  His hunt didn’t go as planned, and he faced some pretty wild situations, but perseverance and luck proved to be a deadly combo, and he was able to tag a giant buck!

Alex Tagle's KS Buck

“With desperation, I reached for the cord and pulled my gear up as fast and as carefully as I could.  Of course, my bow hit my climbing sticks, which made quite a bit of noise, but something unexplainable occurred – this old, wise, and mature buck let me get away with it.”

Read the story at WiredToHunt.com

Wired To Hunt Logo

The Highs and Lows of Hunting, Part II – Missing The Point, And The Shot

Continued from Part I…

Saturday morning, the opening of Missouri’s rifle season, was a bit of a revelation.  I was feeling pretty discouraged after hunting hard for several days, but seeing very few deer and failing to have a single shot opportunity.

I have invested a lot of time, energy, and focus into this hunting season, but it has failed to produce what I expected.  That is the problem, isn’t it?  Investment is a risk, not a guarantee.  Sometimes you reap far less than you sow; hunting is no exception.

My Place To Reflect

When you invest your time, energy, and emotions into something, it not only increases the chances that you will accomplish what you’ve worked for, it also increases the odds that you will encounter disappointment.

The more you invest, the more you expect.  The more you expect, the easier it is to become dissatisfied.

I realized that I had invested too much into my hunting success – not in terms of practicing, or scouting, or time spent hunting – but too much in terms of meaning.  I had taken hunting too seriously.

Expectations spoiled hunting.  It wasn’t fun, enjoyable, or relaxing; it was tiring and stressful.    Hunting had only become this way because I had let it.  I don’t have to stress or obsess.   I could just hunt for the enjoyment of hunting.

Sunday – A new day, a new mindset.

I was back in the woods on Sunday, which was Veteran’s Day, and my late Grandfather’s birthday.  I sat at the base of a tree, clutching my Grandpa’s rifle, remembering him and doing exactly what he would have been doing if he were here with us.  His legacy lives.

I set up in a new spot – a saddle on a high ridge – hoping to catch a buck that was seeking a doe or fleeing from the massive force of orange that invades during firearm season.

The first hour of daylight passed with no activity to speak of.  I carefully scanned my surroundings and decided that it was safe to stretch my legs, so I rose to my feet.  As soon as my feet planted on the steep slope I heard a crash behind me.

Hunting is chaos.  Hours, or in my case, days of idleness, disrupted in a second by a sudden eruption of activity.

What happened over the next few seconds was one of those experiences seems to occur in an instant, and at the same time in a way where time seems to stand still.  These moments are like an out of body experience, not in some mystic sense, but simply because your mind and body react faster than your conscious can reason.  It was as if I didn’t choose my actions, but observed them from a distance.

Hunting with Grandpa's Rifle

The crash that I heard was caused from a hard-charging buck.  He was quickly making his way from my right and rear, crossing towards me at a rapid pace.

Instinct took over.  I quickly dropped to my knee and identified a shooting lane, while at the same time raising my rifle up to my shoulder and attempting to put the buck in the crosshair of my scope.  I let out a mouth bleat, which did nothing to slow this buck down.  Once more, I let out a bleat – this time even louder than I expected.  The buck’s steps slowed momentarily, but I could tell he wasn’t content to stop and question what disturbed nature’s silence.

My crosshair, his shoulder – that is all I recall.  I don’t remember the recoil or the bark of the .30-30 erupting.  The buck didn’t kick or stumble.  He stopped fully, spooked by the commotion, and then quickly retreated.

The moment was over.  My conscious caught up with my instincts at the final second, before the buck disappeared into the dense forest.  The shot hadn’t been lethal, nor had it been dangerous – it was meaningless.  A clean miss.

One shot opportunity in six long days of hunting and I blew it.  I waited dozens upon dozens of hours for that moment, but I didn’t capitalize on the opportunity.  It was a difficult shot – hurried, unsupported, and kneeling, while trying to slow the escaping buck – but regardless of the shot’s difficulty, missing is not an easy thing to accept.

The day before I had decided to embark upon a more lighthearted approach to hunting, but in this moment my heart was anything but light.

I couldn’t help but feel as if I squandered the hours I spent away from my family.  I sent a text to my wife…

“Just missed a nice buck.  He was moving through so fast.  I am so sick with myself right now!  I am sorry.  I can’t believe I wasted this shot after all of this time.”

Her response showed me that she gets it, and apparently I still don’t.

“Not a big deal!  Just remember to enjoy being outside in the woods.  When you make it just about what you kill, instead of enjoyment, then it is not worth it.”

I learned a lesson on Saturday.  I needed to learn that lesson again on Sunday.

All of life is a matter of perspective.  What matters most isn’t what happens; what truly matters is how we respond to it.